CLEVELAND, Feb. 24, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Olympic Steel, Inc. (Nasdaq:ZEUS), a national steel service center, today announced its financial results for the fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2010. Net sales for the fourth quarter of 2010 increased 55.4% to $215.2 million from $138.5 million for the fourth quarter of 2009. Tons sold in the fourth quarter of 2010 increased 31.0% to 254 thousand from 194 thousand in the fourth quarter of 2009. Fourth quarter 2010 net loss totaled $1.6 million, or $0.15 per diluted share, compared to a net loss of $2.6 million, or $0.24 per diluted share, for last year's fourth quarter. Net sales for the year ended December 31, 2010 increased by 53.8% to $805.0 million, compared to $523.4 million for 2009. Tons sold in 2010 increased 34.3% to 969 thousand from 721 thousand in 2009. Net income for 2010 was $2.1 million or $0.20 per diluted share, compared to a net loss of $61.2 million, or $5.62 per diluted share, for 2009. The 2010 results included a third quarter $2.1 million pretax bad debt charge related to an unexpected closure of a customer. The 2009 results included $81.1 million of lower of cost or market pretax charges in the aggregate to write down the value of inventory in the first half of 2009. Commenting on the results, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael D. Siegal stated, "Our 2010 shipments increased by 34% over 2009, which is significantly greater than the total industry growth in steel shipments of 21%, as reported in the Metals Service Center Institute's Market Activity Report. We experienced strong momentum in material demand in the fourth quarter. Along with announced price increases in all of our product lines beginning in November of 2010 and continuing still, our year-end inventory positions present additional opportunities for market share growth and profitability into the coming year."